TV Listings | Where deviousness and transparency collide
Just in case you were desperately searching for another drama series to get stuck into, we offer you not one, but two treats to keep you merrily glued to your screens. While it’s difficult to find a similarity – one features a giant transparent dome that cuts a city off from the rest of the world, while the other is about glamourous but untransparent Mexican maids who would willingly cut their employers’ throats – they are both acclaimed and will keep you entertained.
Stephen King’s sci-fi novel Under the Dome was firmly in the realm of the bizarre and far-fetched, so if you have a penchant for outlandishly wacky plots, you’re in for a treat. The sleepy Maine town of Chester’s Mill is inexplicably ensnared by what looks like a giant contact lens, cutting inhabitants off from – gasp! – the internet.
The series gets off to a truly ludicrous start with a pilot directed by Denmark’s own Niels Arden Oplev (Män som hatar kvinnor), in which a cow gets sliced in half by the descending dome, and townsfolk stumble about wondering what it could all mean. Despite outrage from many critics – Geek Speak Magazine called it “a silly, silly show” – the first season scored 72 on Metacritic, proving that there’s success in silliness.
The same may be true of the latest offering from Marc Cherry, the man behind Desperate Housewives. While the comparisons are obvious – five beautiful, wisecracking females deliver tongue-in-cheek lines – Devious Maids, according to the New York Post, “is funnier and more clever … with lots of good, clean/dirty fun for the clean – and dirty-minded – among us.”
Since its release in June, the show has faced criticism for its stereotyping of Latina women as maids. However, more reviews have applauded the casting of some of US TV’s best Hispanic actresses – Judy Reyes (Carla from Scrubs) and Ana Ortiz (Hilda in Ugly Betty) – who according to Metro “make the most of a barbed script that aims an immaculately manicured fist in the gut at the exploitation of immigrant workers”.
Perhaps the world is finally tiring of lovable Brits Eddie Izzard and Stephen Fry.
In Meet the Izzards, Eddie traces his roots, but seriously, who does Eddy think he is that we would be that interested? While Stephen Fry: Out there (SVT2, Sun 20:00), which sees Mr Erudite mostly visit gay-friendly countries to ask why are they so horrid to gays, “was a good opportunity wasted” according to the Guardian.
Our time is better spent watching an alcoholic making amends (but does he mean it?) in Despicable Dick and Righteous Richard (DR2, Tue 20:30), while Panorama’s Britain’s Secret Terror Force reveals how British soldiers unlawfully killed civilians in Ireland.
Elsewhere, here are three docs that speak for themselves: Woody Allen: A documentary (SVT2, Wed 22:15), Milos Foreman: Taking off in America (DRK, Thu 00:05) and From Jesus to Christ: The First Christians (DRK, Tue 22:40). (BH)
The Washington Post describes Getting On as: “A witheringly efficient work of satire, easily confident about the humanity and absurdity it’s trying to portray.”
The six-episode miniseries, which is based on a 2009 British comedy of the same name that starred Jo Brand, follows the day-to-day trials and tribulations of the staff responsible for the operation of an extended care unit.
Fortunately, the HBO version has not lost the decidedly British humour at its heart – it is quietly confident and painfully true to life.
The series, which scored a very respectable 71 on Metacritic, offers a well-timed, comedic insight into the chaos and downright absurdity of a modern medical system that is shown to be woefully inefficient and overly bureaucratic – one that overworks its staff and neglects its neediest patients. (CJ)
Sport of the week
There are no byes anymore in snooker, a sport still struggling with the enormous hole left in its funding by the UK’s 2003 ban on the sponsorship of sport by tobacco companies, which means the world’s top 16 have to slum it with the rest and start in the round of 128 in the world’s second biggest event, the UK Championship. Elsewhere, Manchester United vs Everton is the pick of the fixtures in the English Premier League, and Washington Redskins vs New York Giants the top game in the NFL. (BH)
Film of the week
There are remarkably few films this week, and nothing pops out at you – particularly Synecdoche, New York, the kind of title that you’ll forget while you’ll actually watching it. But while it’s certainly not Charlie Kauffman’s best work (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind probably is), with strong support from Philip Seymour Hoffman, it leaves everything else in the shade this week. Elsewhere, we are scraping the barrel so badly, we’re recommending golden oldies Live & Let Die and Drugstore Cowboy. (BH)